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How to Add Space to Your Home Without Doing an Addition

Every homeowner at some point contemplates the age-old question: how can I get more space out of my home? Whether you’re craving a new home office, a dedicated play area for the kids, or just some extra room to breathe, the first thought that might cross your mind is to build an addition. But the reality of embarking on such a project can be daunting. The hefty expense, potential land constraints, and the desire to preserve the original charm of your home can all act as deterrents.

But what if there was a way to uncover hidden space right under your nose, leveraging what you already have to create more living space? At Lamont Bros. Design & Construction, our team of professional remodelers has helped dozens of Portland area homeowners add living space to their homes without needing to build an addition.

In this article, we’ll explore innovative ways to maximize the living space of your current home. From breathing life into those underutilized corners of your home to navigating the challenges that come with redesigning existing spaces, we’ll help you find space solutions that meet your needs without the complexities of an addition. The specific topics we’ll discuss include:

Why Avoid an Addition?

Expanding your home can be an exciting prospect for many homeowners, especially as families grow and need change. However, diving headfirst into a home addition isn’t always the best solution. Let’s explore the primary reasons why some homeowners avoid going this route.

Expense of the Addition

One of the most glaring reasons homeowners steer clear of additions is the high cost associated with them. Building an addition is an intricate process involving extensive design, construction permits, building materials, and skilled labor.

Home additions can cost anywhere from $150,000 to over $1 million, with an average cost of about $400,000. Because of the cost, it’s wise to make the most of the current space in your home before spending money on an addition.

Building a home addition is an expensive way to add living space to your home.

Lack of Space on the Lot

Not all properties come with the luxury of extra space that allows you to expand your home outward. Many homeowners find themselves constrained by their lot’s size or shape, making a traditional home addition unfeasible.

There’s also the issue of zoning restrictions, which might limit home additions even if there’s available land. In urban settings or neighborhoods with closely-packed homes, real estate often simply isn’t available for outward expansion.

Preserving the Home’s Original Charm

For many homeowners, their home isn’t just a structure – it’s a testament to a specific architectural style or a cherished design. The thought of altering its original layout or design can be challenging.

For historic homes and homes with clearly define architectural styles, it can be challenging to build home additions that adhere to the stylistic constraints of the original home. As a result, homeowners who are particularly attached to their home’s original design often search for alternative ways to increase space without compromising the home’s integrity.

Identifying Underutilized Spaces

Homeowners looking to add space without doing home addition should first consider the underutilized areas within their current home. By transforming these often-overlooked spaces into functional living areas, homeowners can effectively increase their living space without the need for an addition. Here are some prime areas to consider:


In many older homes, especially those in the Portland area, basements offer a treasure trove of untapped living space potential. Many of these basements remain unfinished or are only partially complete.

By adding essential features like drywall, insulation, egress windows, and even a bathroom, these basements can be transformed into fully functional bedrooms, entertainment areas, or even separate apartment units. In fact, with the right remodeling approach, a basement can sometimes double your existing living space.

Finishing a basement is often an easy way to add usable living space to your home.


Garages, whether attached or detached, can serve purposes beyond just parking or storage. Many homeowners in need of extra space convert their garages into additional bedrooms, home offices, or even gyms.

Converting a garage into living space is a great way to avoid an addition. This is especially true if your home has several garage spaces. For example, let’s say you live in a home with a 3-car garage that you rarely use. However, you need an extra bedroom. In this case, you can convert one or two of the garage bays into living space and still maintain some garage area for home value.


Often overlooked, attics can be a hidden gem when it comes to adding living space. While not as common as basement remodels, attics with legal stairways can be easily remodeled into third floors or loft spaces.

With adequate head height and proper modifications such as windows, ventilation, and sometimes dormers for more ceiling space, an attic can be transformed into a bedroom, office, or recreational loft space.

The other common challenge with attic conversions is that the size of the ceiling joists may not be large enough. Floor joists must have higher weight ratings than ceiling joists. This may require thorough reinforcement throughout the attic’s floor before it is rated to hold the weight of the living space.

Ensuring that the renovated attic meets code requirements for head height, ventilation, and egress is crucial.

An attic can be a great way to add living space without an addition.
Converting an attic to a living space can increase your square footage.

Outbuildings, Sheds, & ADUs

If not set on adding space to the main structure of a home, homeowners can also look to outbuildings, sheds, and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) as potential living spaces. These structures, if adequately insulated and finished, can be converted into guesthouses, hobby studios, or rental units.

They offer the unique advantage of being separate from the main house, providing privacy and flexibility of use. When considering this option, it’s important to adhere to local building codes to ensure the conversion is legal and safe.

Design Challenges & Solutions For Adding Space Without an Addition

Transforming underutilized spaces in a home into functional living areas can present a handful of design challenges. From safety requirements to aesthetic design principles, tackling these challenges requires careful planning and expert guidance to ensure the resulting space is functional, aesthetically pleasing, and in compliance with local building codes. Let’s explore some of the primary challenges and potential solutions.

Egress Windows

Introducing egress windows to basements and attics is a crucial step when converting them into bedrooms or other living areas. These windows not only serve as safety escape routes during emergencies but also bring in much-needed natural light and ventilation.

In many homes, unfinished basements and attics lack this critical feature. However, adding egress windows is a must in order to meet construction code and enhance the safety and ambiance of the space.


Any space designated as a bedroom must meet airflow and ventilation standards according to construction regulations. Proper ventilation is important as it guarantees consistent air circulation, minimizing the risk of mold growth and ensuring the room remains healthy for its occupants.

It’s also important to properly ventilate the new space so it stays the same temperature as the rest of the home. This is especially true for attics, which tend to get much warmer than the rest of the home. You’ll need to find a way to run ducting to the new space and connect it to the home’s central HVAC system.

Particularly in older homes around the Portland area, updating or introducing modern ventilation systems is a challenge when converting unfinished basements or attic spaces into living spaces.

Stair access may present some challenges when adding living space.

Stairs & Access

Traditional stairs leading to basements and attics can sometimes present design challenges. Because they were not designed for frequent use, these staircases are often steep, lacking in width, or do not meet current safety standards, such as handrail placement.

Addressing these access points is vital for ensuring both safety and ease of movement. For instance, many homeowners who contemplate attic renovations are often faced with the challenge of reconfiguring steep or narrow staircases. This often requires a comprehensive redesign of the entire staircase for better usability and code compliance.

Finding the Right Designer

The intricacies of converting unfinished areas of your home into functional living rooms highlight the importance of professional expertise. While homeowners can conceptualize their dream space, realizing this vision while adhering to safety, building codes, and aesthetic goals demands the involvement of a skilled designer.

Engaging with an interior designer early in the remodeling process is one of the best ways to ensure your project’s success. These professionals bring clarity to the homeowner’s vision, ensuring that every decision aligns with your goals. They also have years of experience working with industry best practices and local building regulations.

Embarking on this journey without cutting corners and having a knowledgeable designer onboard can be the difference between a seamless project and one riddled with costly, time-consuming challenges.

Want to Learn More About Home Remodeling?

After exploring the possibilities of adding living space to your home without doing a home addition, do you have a better idea of what solutions might be best for your home? As you weigh the options and consider your home’s potential, why not arm yourself with more remodeling knowledge? Our free 6 Step Guide to a Successful Remodel offers invaluable insights to help you navigate the challenges of home remodeling.

When considering a significant change to your home, don’t leave things to chance. Leveraging the expertise of a seasoned professional can be the difference between a dream come true and a costly misstep. Begin your journey towards a more spacious, functional home by scheduling a free design consultation with us. Let us help turn your home’s hidden potential into tangible, livable spaces.